African countries have called on major arms-producing states to ensure that the supply of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) is limited only to governments.
The African Group made the call at the preparatory committee meeting for the second United Nations (UN) conference to review the progress made in the implementation of the programme of action to prevent, combat and eradicate indiscriminate circulation of SALW.
The UN Correspondent of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Richard Adejola, a top official of the Nigerian Mission to the UN, presented the group's position.
The African countries expressed concern over the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons within the region.
They urged arms-producing countries to ensure that sales of SALW were strictly limited to entities duly authorised by governments, while initiating measures at national levels to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit trade in SALW.
The African countries also frowned at the excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread of SALW in other regions of the world.
They, nonetheless, reaffirmed the right of each state to manufacture, import and retain SALW for self-defence and security purposes in exercising the inherent right to individual or collective self-defence, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.
The African Group stressed that the pragmatic development of Africa largely depended on an effective control of diversion of SALW into illicit networks.
It, nonetheless, noted that numerous member states had established, at national levels, mechanisms to coordinate the prevention of illicit firearms.
It also noted that the states had equally carried out constant reviews of extant laws on firearms' control and data for management of firearms.
"They have in the process, developed a number of measures, information and knowledge, as well as national legislative/regulatory frameworks to guide SALW control implementation mechanisms.
"African Heads of State and Government expressed concern on the impact of the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons in threatening peace and security in Africa," it said.
The African Group said that the proliferation of SALW was particularly undermining efforts to improve the living standards of the African people.
It underscored the need for international cooperation and assistance in the full implementation of the programme of action and highlighted the myriad challenges facing Africa with regard to illicit circulation of SALW.
The group, however, said that the forthcoming Review Conference should consider ways of strengthening ongoing efforts to curtail illicit circulation of SALW at national, regional and continental levels.